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Chasing Vermeer

(Chasing Vermeer #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  29,404 ratings  ·  2,344 reviews
When a book of unexplainable occurrences brings Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay together, strange things start to happen: seemingly unrelated events connect, an eccentric old woman seeks their company, and an invaluable Vermeer painting disappears. Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal, where no one — neighbors, parents, ...more
Hardcover, 254 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Scholastic Press
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Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  29,404 ratings  ·  2,344 reviews

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Aug 01, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children who like to be bored.
"A Da Vinci Code for tweens." - Newsweek

This is only one of the quoted praises lumped on Chasing Vermeer and proudly emblazoned on its back cover. It is probably the most apropos quote because it hinges almost entirely on the readers' familiarity with and reaction to Dan Brown's novel.

If you found Da Vinci Code boring, trite, melodramatic, sophomoric, and preposterous, you will probably have a similar reaction to Blue Balliett's debut young adult novel, Chasing Vermeer.

Balliett has stated that i
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett was given to me by a friend because it was similar to From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler. As I'd read that and liked it, I was eager to read this. I've recently become more interested in Vermeer, so that added to my motivation.

There are some things I liked about the book. There are two protagonists who are both perceived as "nerds," but they are initially interesting and rather likeable. (Their names, by the way, were carefully chosen by Balliett
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I finished reading this to my 9-year-old last night, then poked around here on Goodreads, assessing what reader response had been when the book was originally published.

I was surprised by how many reviewers didn't like this book, or couldn't finish it. Believe me, I understand the issues readers had with "plot points." Yes, the plot does unravel somewhat at the end. Yes, the "bad guy" here was a stretch of the imagination, and too many sloppy bits were thrown in at the end. I'm never a fan of no
Kata Bel Air
Dec 15, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: crap-tastic
This book may very well be the worst book I have ever read in my entire life. Why? Let me break it down for you.

There's a painting. It gets stolen. Lucky for the art museum of Chicago, three fifth graders have a plan to get it back. So if you'd ever read the last three chapters of flat stanely, you have read this entire book.

First of all, I generally hate mystery books anyway, which is most likely a prime factor of my hatred for this book. Secondly, I hate mysteries that involve children, just
Nov 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: art-fiction
I loved parts of this book and disliked other parts, so there you are; the epilogue ending is particularly bad (in that "I don't know how to work all this into the plot, so here, this is what happened" kind of way). The "there's no such thing as coincidence" stuff would have been way overdone in any other book, but I understand that that was one of the author's main points here; still, I wasn't convinced. And the art history reads as coming straight from the author's Brown BA at least twenty yea ...more
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
An unexpected find that I really enjoyed. Both the story and illustrations were great. Will be continuing the series. 🐸
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Another YA purchase from Green Apple books, and to be honest, a disappointment. This is a new-ish book, published in 2004, and while I had never read it before, I had high hopes. I had read reviews that said it was clever, it has expert illustrations by Brett Helquist (Lemony Snicket’s illustrator), and the inside flap lead me to believe it was a puzzle tale in the same vein as The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin.* Chasing Vermeer is not a terrible book, but it didn’t live up to my expectations.

Tyler Jones
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: juvenile
There is much to admire in this book, but unfortunately quite a bit to dislike as well.

The story of two kids who solve a mystery will encourage young readers to question authority, think outside the box and look for interesting connections in the world around them. All good things, right?

Unfortunately, there is a whole lot of potential problems with the kind of philosophy this book advocates. A belief in parapsychology is a dangerous thing to instill in children because it easily leads them to
Jan 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was a lot of fun to read. It reminded me a little of a Da Vinci code for younger minds, only in some ways this book was a lot trickier. Throughout, there is a pentomino code, and another hidden code which I never tried to decipher, although I saw the clues. Codes aren't my thing. But I was still pulling out a notebook to decrypt the letters going between two friends in certain chapters.

I think this is a really original and unique book, that looks at things in all sorts of ways--ways we
Jun 17, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kid-lit, 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-aloud, audio
I had far too many problems with this book to even start to enumerate them. I'll just mention the one thing I really liked about sharing the experience of listening to this book (the first half) and then reading it aloud (the second) with my son. It so happened that when we reached the point in the story where Vermeer's painting "A Lady Writing" is introduced, we were visiting my mother's home in Northern Virginia. On the morning of the drive home, it turned out to be really easy to make our fir ...more
Oct 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Take the dustjacket off and see the paintings! I was lucky enough to find a copy in a(n) LFL. My brother liked it a lot. He wants me to read and answer (view spoiler)

Well, now that I've read it, I don't know. Strange book. I liked that it taught us about looking at art with our own eyes and looking at details, and also about observing patterns. But when it got to the point that numerology became a
Victor Guerrero
**SPOILER ALERT** Have you ever tried to solve a mystery ? Well Petra and Calder have. The genre of this book is mystery.Its mystery because Calder and Petra are trying to find the famous Vermeer painting that has been stolen. My overall opinion of this book is i loved it because it's so fun and loved the creativity.

In the beginning of the book Petra and Calder receive a letter from an unknown person asking them for help fixing a crime involving art. This letter threatens them, telling them tha
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Me for

I think the fact that I had never heard of CHASING VERMEER before I picked up a copy at the bookstore helped in my enjoyment of it. After I finished reading the book, I read with interest other reviews, which is usually my habit after I've written my own review. I like to see what other readers thought of a story, or how similar--or, in some cases, dissimilar--my own thoughts and feelings are from other readers. I was surprised to see that many had touted CHASI
This book is OK. It's not really trying to be the Da Vinci Code for kids, but the movement in recent years with "smart" protagonists is definitely represented here.

The two protagonists are very likable and I was interested in the glowingly positive representation of the Chicago School constructivist education model. The problem here is a common one in YA, but magnified in this book I think. The kids are too curious and diligent. I can believe the overly brave, adventurous kids in most YA more t
Megan Baxter
Jul 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Chasing Vermeer is a fun children's book, easy to read, with pictures that involve some thought, if you want to put that thought into it. (I am lazy, I did not.) I have some overall questions about the tack the book takes on Charles Fort and how it veers a little bit into magic without ever exploring that, but hey, a children's book that might introduce kids to Charles Fort? I'm pretty much in.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement
Christopher Alvarado
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved the book because shows a new level of mystery for me because I liked how a painting was stolen.And too characters named Petra and Calder want to find it they use pentominos to help them find the painting and they find the painting but while they where doing that strange things are happining.
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
this book rocks, and so do blue m&ms!!!!!!!!!!! a really good story!
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this in third grade, and I decided to read it again.....still an amazing book!
Sep 03, 2020 added it
I was obsessedddd with this series in middle school.
Samantha Sheeran
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chasing-vermeer
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett is a story about two sixth graders who go on a magical adventure! The book starts out by 3 anonymous people receiving a letter asking for help to uncover the truth about an artist named Vermeer. You find out at the end of the book that these three people in fact live in the same area and are related in many ways. Petra and Calder seem to be your typical sixth grade students, until you realize that they think very differently than other sixth graders. They are mes ...more
Mar 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
The star rating may be a little unfair. For me, as an adult, it's two stars. Any kid age 8 to 12 probably would give this 5 stars. This is a code within a story, and I had a hard time deciding which to pay attention to. Because there's also an identical code in the pictures which is easily deciphered, I chose story. I'm pretty sure the code is easily deciphered within the story, I just didn't write down each time the author mentioned a specific pentomino.

The storyline really is pretty good with
Emily Peed
Feb 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Connie Strong
Feb 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliet and Illustrated by Brett Hellquist,is a fascinating mystery novel that continually draws readers in. In this respect it is a very interactive novel. For starters the two main characters, Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee, are perceived to be extremely geeky. However, they both realize that they have many common interests such as both liking blue M & M's, and end up becoming great friends. Their quirks have an appeal that readers cannot help but like. Calder and Pet ...more
Nancy Kotkin
I really wanted to like this book, as I love art, museums, and middle grade novels, but I found the execution of this one flawed. Both the premises of this book are fascinating - the one about Vermeer and the one about coincidences being messages from the universe that hold important meanings - but neither of these premises is fully developed. It was probably too much to attempt to mesh them into one middle grade novel. Furthermore, a mystery needs to be built on actual clues with some educated ...more
Aug 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens, mystery
I might have enjoyed this more had I not had its predecessors in the forefront of my brain. Such as, the two kid main characters in Chasing Vermeer becoming obsessed with a work of art which reminded me so strongly of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler. And the back rather made it sound like a mystery that could have been written by Ellen Raskin. So, with those two things in mind, this book could be nothing but a disappointment. Well, perhaps 'disappointment' is the wrong word, ...more
Katelan Mccullum
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chasing-vermeer
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett is such an intriguing book for young adult readers! I absolutely love mystery books and this one kept me on my toes! I found myself unable to put it down wanting to know what would happen next. I must say that the end was not what I expected. This book could be pinned as a spin off of the Da Vinci Code and the characters, Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay really bring the story to life. This book will relate well to children who feel as though they get caught in st ...more
Jan 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Interestingly enough, for all the love this book gets, it basically sucks. The mystery hinges almost entirely on unimaginable coincidences and hunches, which is pretty weak. Even pre-teens deserve better than this. And unlike the DaVinci Code, to which it is strangely compared in a blurb, it drags and the adult characters are unidentifiable and bleed together.
Now, with all that said, I've never yet had a more enjoyable time reading a book with a group of twelve-year-olds. The kids were totally e
Oct 23, 2010 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this, and I think it could have been really great, but unfortunately the coincidences and psychic connections were all too far fetched for me within the context of an "ordinary" book (no supernatural/magical element).

I liked the kids, the way they were nerdy and both from interesting racial backgrounds, and the way the authority figures were all fallable and the kids genuinely cared about them. I also liked the way art - history and interpretation - was handled, because
I have very mixed feelings about this. I like Petra and Calder, and I think the mystery is great, but I don't think the author handled it very well. Too much explanation at the end, too much not-very-well-explained randomness as far as clues, and the solution is kind of out of the blue--it took me a few minutes to remember who the heck the bad guy actually was when I heard his name. I think there was a terrific book to be written from this story, but this is not it. I really enjoyed some of the ...more
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I was born in New York City and grew up playing in Central Park, getting my share of scraped knees, and riding many public buses and subways. By the time I was a teenager, I sometimes stopped at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Frick Museum after school, just to wander and look and think. The Met has five Vermeer paintings and the Frick three, so Vermeer and I have been friends for many years ...more

Other books in the series

Chasing Vermeer (4 books)
  • The Wright 3 (Chasing Vermeer, #2)
  • The Calder Game (Chasing Vermeer, #3)
  • Pieces and Players (Chasing Vermeer, #4)

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